Contexts for teaching and the exercise of agency in early-career academics: perspectives from realist social theory

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Abstract:

In this study, we investigate the interplay between context and agency for three early-career academics as they seek to develop their teaching. Our analysis is conducted in light of Archer's realist social theory, framed by critical realism. We argue that it is possible to see ways in which Archer's account of the interplay between structure and agency is evident in the practice of these academics, with the influence of contextual factors mediated by their concerns and reflexive deliberations. We thus open up a range of questions for further research and points of departure for the development of practice. Dans cet article, nous etudions l'interrelation entre le contexte et la participation de trois universitaires au debut de leur carriere, alors que ceux-ci cherchent a ameliorer leur enseignement. Notre analyse est effectuee a la lumiere de la theorie realiste sociale (realist social theory) de Archer, selon une approche realiste critique. Nous defendons la these qu'il est possible de reconnaitre des facons selon lesquelles l'approche de Archer au sujet de l'interrelation entre structure et participation se retrouve dans les pratiques de ces universitaires, alors que l'influence des facteurs contextuels est mise en perspective par leurs questionnements et leurs reflexions. Nous presentons ensuite un ensemble de questions pouvant mener a des recherches additionnelles, de meme que des elements de depart pour le developpement de la pratique.

Keywords: agency; critical realism; early-career academics; initial professional development; realist social theory; social structure

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13601440903106510

Affiliations: University of Liverpool, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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